First, it's a honor and a treat to get to do some guest-blogging at Sir Tom's site!
I came across a paper today from May 2003—ages ago!—called An Analysis of Netflix's DVD Allocation System that explains the way Netflix figures out who gets a DVD when there are more requests than copies. Summary: "... new and low cost customers can 'cut in line' ahead of other customers."
Not shocking. When people pay $18/month to rent as many DVDs as they want for as long as they want—although you can't have more than 3 out at a time—you have to have some way of deciding who gets the first copies. But line cutting is so unfair! Worse, manuelsweb puts it in terms of Netflix punishing those who get more than 9 DVDs in a month.
It is a fact that some customers are more valuable than others. It just irks us—well, me anyway—to see that fact acknowledged. "Lucky bastards in first class! What did they do to deserve it?" And, yes, when I get to upgrade and the Coach Folks file by to cubic footage so meagre that veal cows have more leg room, I do feel awkward. Don't you?
(Thanks to Ramit Sethi at Captology for the link.)